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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2008 10:26 pm 
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Developing Compulsive Chains

Watching DVD on laptop while wife at work


1. Wednesday night of the previous week - Watched DVD and masturbatedÂ…thought about when I would get the next free time alone to repeat the ritual.
– Emotionally felt accomplishment, suspense and a lesser degree of shame guilt at not being in control of my emotions.

2. Throughout the next few days - Prepared for the following Wednesday night, but wondered if I might be able to watch porn DVD on Monday afternoon while My wife was at a meeting
– Felt torn between my desire to participate in ritual and conflicting desire not to participate (My son would be outside playing and I would have to perform the ritual inside. I would not be able to properly monitor his safety and I would have to use my work laptop to keep from being detected by my wife.).
– Overall emotions fluctuated between pleasurable suspense and fantasy and negative emotions like guilt and irresponsibility.
– Reflecting on the emotions further, I think that deliberating the pros and cons kept the emotional embers burning over the weekend when I was unable to act out. The suspense of not knowing how things were going to turn out on Monday was much more tantalizing than if I had been completely decisive about performing or abstaining from the ritual.

3. Monday Morning – While at work, still somewhat undecided about whether to bring laptop and DVD home
– Felt that I would more than likely carry out the ritual as I frequently lost these mental battles in the past.

4. Monday 2:30 – While at work, made the final decision to bring home the laptop. I was almost completely certain that I was going to participate in the ritual at this point.
– My emotions shifted away from the negative and began to focus on the processes of the ritual and the pleasure I would derive from it

5. Monday 2:45 – Arrived home and greeted my wife. Participated in conversations and acted as normally as possible, but was very distracted inside and felt the anticipation really begin to build.

6. Monday 3:40 – My son arrived home from school and my wife made the final preparations for the meeting.
– Anticipation and anxiety was at its highest point, but was easy to cloak in the chaos of his arrival and her departure.

7. Monday 3:45 – My son went into the back yard to play and my wife left for the meeting. I almost immediately turned on the laptop as I knew that I would not have much time to act out.
– Emotional tension began to subside.
8. Monday 3:45-4:15 – Watched DVD and aroused myself physically. Checked on my son’s safety occasionally.
– Emotions were again conflicted between obligation to my son and to the physical / visual stimulation and fantasy of the ritual.

9. Monday 4:15 – Went to the bathroom and masturbated to orgasm.

10. Monday 4:20 – Began to surf for product reviews of digital cameras.
– I may be digging here, but I think I wanted to perpetuate some of the emotions of the ritual after the orgasm. I could have went out to play with my son at this point, or tidied up the house etc, but I think I really wanted to continue to occupy this free time doing some sort of “me-centricÂâ€Â


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2008 10:50 pm 
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Recovery Workshop: Month 2; Week 1; Day 1
The Role of Emotions


Quote:
A. Find a place where you will be alone and safe. Ensure that, for the next fifteen minutes, you won't be interrupted for any reason. Fifteen mintues (or longer, but not less than). Then close your eyes and just feel...

After you have done this for fifteen minutes (or longer), and before you engage in any compulsive behavior, open your eyes and complete the following:

A. Describe the emotions that you experienced and the thoughts that triggered them.

B. In assessing your own anxiety, describe the extremes of your personal experiences with anxiety. What has been the least anxious state you have experienced and the most extreme anxious state you have experienced?




Well this was a rather interesting rideÂ…

I had a very good day today feeling emotionally connected to my students, my wife and my son. When I started this exercise, I was feeling rather emotionally inert riding on the high of the days events.

Starting with my relationship with my son

I began by thinking of the time I spent with my son tonight, how I had interacted with him, helped him with his homework and played with him before bedtime. He was particularly engaging tonight. I thought of other special things I liked to do with my sonÂ…riding our bikes, hiking, having campfires and goofing around in general. I felt very peaceful. I then thought of times when I was not well connected to him; times when I was preoccupied with work, school, fantasies of porn and other compulsions. My guilt began to build and I felt sadness at the missed opportunities when he wanted to interact with me, but I did not reciprocate.

My wife

I then began to think of my relationship with my wife. I replayed some of our most intense memories. Our wedding vows, our sonÂ’s birth, our honeymoon and numerous other trips and memories that were dear to me. My emotions were not as cut and dried as they were with my son. Rather than feeling homogenous positive and negative emotions, each memory seemed to bring a mixture of positive and negative emotions. The overall effect was stabile and comforting, but I could tell that this relationship was not as well defined in my head and heart as the one I shared with my son. I reflected a bit on work that needed to be done to clarify my perception of my marriage with her.

My students

I also thought of my students. I have been troubled the past few days about comments that I had made to other professionals and staff members about them. I felt very hypocritical since I generally regard myself as having deep empathy and compassion for my students, but I had not reflected these feelings in recent conversations. I then thought of my lessons today and how well they absorbed the information and interacted with me and each other. I felt very fulfilled in my career and the job I was doingÂ…again experiencing some very stabile, comforting emotions.

My vision and my health

My vision came to mind “All you truly have at the end of the day is your life, what you did with it and who you shared it with.Ââ€Â


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 9:24 pm 
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M2 W1 D3 Emotional Balance and Stability

Quote:
A. Make a list of all of idintifiable stressors that have affected your emotional health over the past week. For each, document whether it is a mild, moderate, severe or extreme stressorÂ…


Stressors

Work
    • Teaching new Algebra lessons (Mild)
    • Spending budget surplus on educational supplies on short notice (Moderate)
    • Being respectful to my students (Generally mild, but severe at one point)
Family
    • Committing to learning more about Autism (Mild)
    • Delivering therapy to my son (Mild)
    • Deciding whether or not to take my son to cubs this week (Weighing social benefits and commitment to the organization against curriculum which has become very lecture based and challenging for him) (Moderate, but short lived)
    • My brother visiting us (Mild to Moderate)
    • Re-adjusting to our environment after he left (Moderate for a day)
    • Other family members wanting to know more about what my wife and I are going through than I am comfortable telling them (Moderate but short lived)
    • Communicating with my wife in relation to addiction and recovery (Mild to moderate)
Other
    • Designing a stand for our new stereo and researching universal remote controls (moderate)
    • Discussing recovery with psychologist (Mild)
    • Fear of misunderstanding components of recovery and anticipation of future recovery stressors (Mild to moderate)


Quote:
B. Return to your values list created earlier in the workshop. In a healthy life, the majority of energy being drained (e.g. stress) should be related to the pursuit of your highest prioritized values (top fifteen or so). Do you see this pattern in your life? If not, what do you think this means in terms of the way that you are expending your energy?


ItÂ’s not really reflected in the list above, but I have been aware that I have spent a disproportionate amount of time thinking about the stereo stand and remote. It seems to creep back into my psyche frequently even though I am aware that it is not critical to my values or long term growth as a human being. This sort of emotional diversion and stimulation is a very frequent occurrence in my life and is similar to my experiences with porn.

Quote:
C. Likewise, in a healthy life, the majority of meaning and stimulation that you gain should also be related to your highest values. Do you see this pattern in your life? If not, what do you think this means in terms of the quality of life you are living?


I would say that the majority of meaning I derive on any given day relates to my highest values in the sense that the things that I look back on with satisfaction typically relate to my values. Stimulation on the other hand seems weighted too heavily towards activities that do not relate directly to these values. I see myself as a bit of an anal-retentive putterer who spends far too much time obsessing about the trivial. I have made some progress in this area, but there is still much work to be done here. I know that my quality of life could be much better with increased focus and better time management skillsÂ…Any thoughts?


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 10:43 pm 
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re: "I would love to try this again, but IÂ’m not sure if I should. I would love to hear your feedback."

There are two issues here. One is how you have used this exercise as an opportunity to add depth to your personal awareness. And in this regard, by all means...do this again. Do it regularly. You want to develop the ability to have such meaningful, internal conversations with yourself.

The second issue is why this exercise is presented at this juncture. And that is, to begin the separation of your feelings/thoughts from your physical self. And from the physical reality that you exist in. Later in the workshop, you will be developing urge control skills that involve your ability to isolate the feelings associated with an urge from the physical stimulus--and learn to act on those feelings alone. That is why you were asked to do what you did here. Everything else was just a bonus. But one that you should continue to take advantage of.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:49 pm 
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M2W1D6 Obstacles to Emotional Maturity

Immediate gratification plays the primary role in the lives of most people who struggle with addiction. In your Personal Recovery Thread, share the following:

Quote:
A. Describe three times in your life when the "Immediate Gratification" principle has come into play:


    1. At work – digitizing images of student activities and field specimens or working on the departmental website of rather than preparing for field trips. I frequently sacrificed the quality of the core duties of my job in exchange for more intense, satisfying and unimportant short term activities. I would actually get annoyed when I would have to leave these activities to perform my real job duties.

    2. Deciding to view pornography and masturbate rather than waiting for my wife to come home from work and attempting to share intimacy with her. I knew that my immediate gratification would come at the expense of my long term relationship with my wife, yet I almost always gave in. Even though these actions frequently came with guilt and shame (especially after completion of the ritual), it was much less work to give in and these compulsive actions always had guaranteed short term results.

    3. Using our DVD recorder to capture pornographic movies from our TV set. I had made the promise to my wife months before that I would never view pornography again or bring it into our home. I knew with absolute certainty that doing so would end my marriage. I also knew that it would destroy any self esteem or self worth that I still possessed at the timeÂ…and yet I still recorded, viewed and hid the videos. Immediate gratification managed to displace all rational thought and any adherence to my core values at that time and in the months that followed.




Quote:
B. As best as you can, describe the anxiety you feel when you are trying to NOT ACT on a compulsive sexual thought or behavior.

    The anxiety accompanies an actual physical sensation (like a knot in my stomach). My mind is in complete turmoil and violently flips back and forth between what I know is right and the immediate satisfaction that comes with continuing the ritual. In almost every case in the past, the anxiety increased exponentially whenever I tried to stop myself. It was as if the need to perform the act was always bigger than my ability to stop it.

    Since I have started working through the RN workshops, this has not presented nearly the same intensity. By analyzing the mental and emotional processes that are at play, I have been much more relaxed. It is as if not actively trying to stop myself, but rather trying to understand myself has stopped the internal conflict that caused the huge escalation in my emotions. These recent urges have been fairly easy to manage as a result.


Quote:
C. As best as you can, describe the feeling that you experience while you are engaging in a certain compulsive sexual thought or behavior.

[list]You used the term “delusional actualizationÂâ€Â


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2008 2:51 pm 
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re: "This feeling was in very sharp contrast to the negative emotions I felt leading up to the ritual and immediately afterwards."

I want you to understand this dynamic a little deeper. From a 'measuring compulsive behavior' perspective...the contrast can be represented by let's say...jelly beans.

Let's say that, to feel emotionally fulfilled...a person must have ten jelly beans in their pocket. With nine jelly beans, they will feel close to fulfillment, but not quite there. With eight, there will be a sense of uneasiness--a sense that something is missing. And so on. Right on down to having no jelly beans...and even BEYOND that to actually OWING jelly beans.

Within any given compulsive ritual, a certain amount of jelly beans will be earned. The amount of jelly beans earned will be enough to temporarily reach the level of fulfillment: ten.

So here you come, feeling 'uneasy' (thus, you have eight jelly beans in your pocket). You don't like this feeling and decide that a quick masturbation session will generate those two extra beans that you need. You do...it does. You have a simple ritual that produces a total of two jelly beans.

But let's add some complexity to that ritual. Let's start you off with the same feeling of 'uneasiness' (eight beans)...but as you begin to consider masturbation, the moral conflict with your religious upbringing triggers immense shame. Instantly, your emotions state goes from 'eight beans' to 'four beans'. Add to this the fact that you had promised your wife that you would not masturbate without her knowing, yet you are too embarrassed to tell her...and also add the fact that you have achieved 120 days of abstinence from masturbation and note that the additional pressure and anxiety produced by these elements have driven your emotional state down to 'one bean'.

In a relatively short period of time...and with nothing more than your own thoughts...you have driven your emotional state from 'uneasiness' to 'crisis'. And then you act out...and again, temporarily, you achieve this state of 'delusional' fullfillment. How much stimulation has this ritual produced? A lot more than the simple ritual, that's for sure. The simple ritual produced only two beans...this one produced nine beans.

What does it all mean? Your rituals exist to produce stimulation. The elements of those rituals all influence the amount of stimulation produced. And so, begin to note that that the more extreme your emotional state, the more stimulation a ritual will produce--all because of the delusional actualization principle. Also note that these fluxuations in your emotional state are not limited to before and after the ritual...but throughout complex rituals as well. Especially in relation to guilt, shame, danger, suspense, etc.

Why am I all of a sudden craving Easter? :wink:

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Recovery Coach
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 10:10 pm 
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M2W2D1 - Exercise 36 - The Role of Boundaries
Quote:
I. Describe a scenario from your past where not having a well-defined set of boundaries has prolonged and/or intensified the personal consequences that you have experienced.


When I was 17, I became sexually active with my ex-girlfriend. I did not have clear boundaries pertaining to the relationship. It did not grow to be an honest loving relationship, but evolved from other thoughts and feelings that infringed on my core values. I ended up moving in with her, getting her pregnant, marrying her and getting divorced a few years later. I still live with many consequences of this relationship.
Quote:
II. Describe a situation in your life where having solid boundaries will assist you in managing the event in such a way as to protect your value system.

Setting up boundaries to help me be a better father would definitely help me manage events with him. For example if I applied the following boundaries to a time when I was trying to facilitate therapy and learning with him, but we were both struggling, I would have a solid framework that would help guide my actions.

    1. I will always check if he is having fun during learning activities and adjust my approach if he is not..
    2. I will use the principle of productive uncertainty to keep him engaged.
    3. I will not hold him accountable if he is struggling. It is my responsibility to change learning activities to suit his needs. I will always assess the situation before removing distractions, creating rewards, shortening activities, slowing down or re-thinking my approach.
    4. I will never rush through therapy.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2008 9:47 pm 
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Exercise 37 - Identifying Personal Boundaries

Quote:
I. List three of your highest values (values prioritized within the top five).

II. Make a list of at least five concrete boundaries (rules) that you will use to protect that value.


Taking care of myself physically, mentally and spiritually
    1. I will recognize complacency as a direct threat to all levels of health. I will actively develop, implement, improve and adhere to systems that prevent complacency.
    2. The development and maintenance of all levels of health will be incorporated into daily routines.
    3. I will be mindful of foods that I am eating both in quantity and quality.
    4. I will be equally mindful of my mental, emotional and spiritual diet.
    5. I will not engage in physical activities that are likely to cause me or others injury.
    6. Before engaging in strenuous activities, I will assess my health to ensure that I do not over exert and injure myself.
Strengthening my role as a partner to my wife in our physical, emotional and mental communication.
    1. I will always listen more than I talk when communicating with my wife
    2. When I have hurt my wife emotionally, I will apologize and try to make amends. If I do not know how to help her, I will ask here how or if she would like me to help.
    3. If my wife is frustrated or angry with me, I will take time to consider her words. I will not respond until I have listened to her fully and processed my own thoughts and emotions carefully.
    4. When my wife has injured me emotionally, I will discuss my feelings with her rather than internalizing them.
    5. If I offer a gift or surprise to my wife, I will take my reward from the act of giving it to her, not from her reaction to it.
    6. When my wife gives me praise or does something nice for me, I will always acknowledge it sincerely and in a way that she appreciates and understands.
    7. When I want to be physically intimate with my wife, I will always consider and respect her needs and wishes first.
    8. I will be honest with my partner at all times.
    9. An omission of the truth is the same as a lie.
    10. When I lie about the smaller details of an event, my partner has that right to assume that I am lying about the main details as well.
    11. When I have been untruthful, I will accept responsibility and be held accountable exactly as outlined in our contract
    12. On occasion, my partner has the right to take into account all of the circumstantial evidence to come to their own conclusions towards an event. They do not need absolute proof.
    13. In a conflict, the most logical explanation will be the one that is accepted, with bizarre or unlikely excuses accepted only when they can be proven.
Being a better father, raising a healthy child to become as independent and whole as possible
    1. I will always check if he is having fun during learning activities and adjust my approach if he is not. I will also check to ensure that he is sharing in the joy of communicating with me rather than just being entertained by me.
    2. My son is an inherently trusting person. I will never betray his trust in me. I will also do everything in my power to protect him from untrustworthy and unscrupulous people.
    3. Learning and teaching should always be a time of sharing, each of us learning from and teaching the other. I will modify my approach if any activity becomes one-sided.
    4. I will never rush through therapy.
    5. I will not hold him accountable if he is struggling. It is my responsibility to change learning activities to suit his needs. I will always assess the situation before removing distractions, creating rewards, shortening activities, slowing down or re-thinking my approach.
    6. My role will always be to strive towards his independence, but I will never leave his side until he has the necessary skills to succeed at whatever he is undertaking.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2008 1:34 am 
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re: "boundaries"

Just a quick summary of what we talked about. Boundaries are rules that you establish in your life to PROTECT your values. Proactive action plans (and the goals/steps that make them up) are there to STRENGTHEN your values. What I want to see from you is two or three ABSOLUTE BOUNDARIES before we meet next.

re: "Daily monitoring"

Just a reminder. Over the past two days, have you awoken each day actually looking forward to seeking out opportunities to strengthen your communication skills (e.g. openness, vulnerability) with your wife? Don't answer, just stay active in doing so. You want to have taken advantage of at least ten or so such opportunities this week. And if those opportunities just don't appear? Make them. :wink:

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 9:01 pm 
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My absolute boundaries:

Here are some boundaries I have come up with. I really had a tough time wrapping my head around them at first, but I think (and hope) I have the concept straight in my head now. You asked me for my top three absolute values, but I gave you my top five insteadÂ…hope this is OK.

I looked at other peopleÂ’s posts for ideas first, but quickly learned that an awful lot of people were having just as tough a time as I was. I then followed a bit of a linear sequential approach using my vision and main value headings as a framework. As I listed them, I realized that in just about every case I knew when I was compromising these values in the past. There was almost always a consistent feeling and type of thought or action that went along with the value that was being violated. So here they areÂ…as best as I can describe them here are the boundaries that when crossed indicate that I am trampling all over my values. Some of them are a bit wordy, but I have them pared down in my head (and will also pare them down on my thread after you review them). I believe that I could recall each one and apply it in real time to situations as the come up.

The only one I still am having a really tough time with is health (especially physical health). This value seems to be protected by a very fuzzy grey line in my mind. I frequently make violations which I know my body will recover from. For instance, it is ok to go sacrifice sleep so long as I do not do it too many nights in a row, I can eat that piece of cheesecake as long as I donÂ’t do it every day etc. This line of thinking seems to leave the door open to all sorts of negative, indulgent, emotional possibilities. On the other hand, IÂ’m not sure where to draw the line since no person can be absolutely physically healthy. I donÂ’t have much better definitions of mental, emotional or spiritual health either as I see them all as continuums that only have well defined positive and negative extremes. Any help with a “healthyÂâ€Â


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2008 10:19 pm 
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Another attempt at boundaries

Health (self, physical, mental, spiritual, emotional)
    1. I will not do anything that I know will place the balance of my health into a negative state.
    2. Not engaging in activities that develop or maintain health is the same as engaging in unhealthy activities.

Use honesty and integrity and base decisions on positive constructive values that promote growth and to be efficient but not allow shabby short-cuts
    1. Any act or thought that does not develop or maintain my core identity weakens it. I will not engage in such an act.
    2. I will not attempt to rationalize any thought or action that goes against my core values.
    3. I will not lie to myself or others.
    4. Decisions and actions will always be based on my core values after being carefully thought through mentally.
    4. Emotions tell me whatÂ’s going on. They will never tell me what to do.
    5. Unless I am being chased by a man eating lion, I will not allow myself to follow impulsive, emotion based decisions.

Strengthening my role as a partner to my wife in our physical, emotional and mental communication.
    1. I will assess any action or thought related to my sexuality or marriage on the principle of absolute transparency as if my wife is in my head experiencing it herself. I will not proceed if she would not approve.
    2. If I am unsure of how she would react, I will ask her first.
    3. I will not be selfish in my marriage. I will always place my wifeÂ’s needs in our relationship ahead of mine unless they compromise my values.
    4. I will be honest with my partner at all times.
    5. An omission of the truth is the same as a lie.
    6. When I lie about the smaller details of an event, my partner has that right to assume that I am lying about the main details as well.
    7. When I have been untruthful, I will accept responsibility and be held accountable exactly as outlined in our contract
    8. On occasion, my partner has the right to take into account all of the circumstantial evidence to come to their own conclusions towards an event. They do not need absolute proof.
    9. In a conflict, the most logical explanation will be the one that is accepted, with bizarre or unlikely excuses accepted only when they can be proven.
Being a better father, raising a healthy child to become as independent and whole as possible
    1. If I promise my son something as an effort to placate him or distract him I am being dishonest with him and myself and I am not upholding my role as his parent.
Leisure time with self and others (hobbies, down time, travel, rest)
    1. I will recognize that my use of spare time is ass backwards when I perceive that my higher values are interfering with my hobbies.
    If this occurs, I will take a step back and re-assess my actions and base them on values based priorities.


Last edited by CoachNortherndad on Thu Feb 07, 2008 9:44 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2008 1:19 am 
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re: " but quickly learned that an awful lot of people were having just as tough a time as I was"

Absolutely, most people with addictions struggle to grasp these concepts at first. They are actually pretty easy skills to develop, but we are exceptionally lacking as a society in basic life skill education. Instead, we are being raised on emotional manipulation. Which is why, as adults, we are forced to learn what should have been ingrained decades ago. Struggle through this development for a week or two...and you will have a skill set that will pay dividends the rest of your life.

re: "This value seems to be protected by a very fuzzy grey line in my mind. I frequently make violations which I know my body will recover from."

Now you are starting to get it. It's not about having all of the answers for your life. You will never have a boundary structure that is so sound that it will guide you through all of life's nuances. Your values are fluid. Your boundaries must also be fluid. It is about learning how your life works...then looking for such conflicts/exceptions and making decisions as to how you will manage them. There will be times when you consciously choose to violate one of your boundaries...and that is a GOOD, HEALTHY thing to do. Though with ABSOLUTE boundaries, this should be extremely rare...and only with exceptional situations.

re: "Health (self, physical, mental, spiritual, emotional)"

I can't think of a single boundary that could be applied effectively to all of these at the same time. Perhaps, something like "I will not consciously engage in any action that I know to be unhealthy." Of course, I don't know how practical that would be in early recovery. And so, I would tend to separate these into unique categories. Then, I would create boundaries such as, "I will only eat if I feel hungry." "I will prioritize my spiritual health above my emotions." "When physically injured, I will not try to push past the pain. Instead, I will rest the injury and care for it."

These are only some examples. None of which would be considered an absolute boundary. For a potential absolute boundary, I might go with: "I will not engage in any behavior that I believe to be in conflict with my God's commandments." In to make it more practical for me, I might add: "...even if this means that I must sacrifice pleasure for spiritual depth."

re: "Anything that places the balance of my health into a negative state is unhealthy and I will not do it."

This has the makings of becoming an excellent boundary. I might reworded as follows, "I will not do anything that I know will place the balance of my health into a negative state." Of course, an awareness of those things that tend to lead you into a negative state would need to be developed. But you are definitely getting the right idea.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 10:27 pm 
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Exercise 38: Developing Healthy Boundaries

Quote:
I. Review the boundaries created to protect the values listed in the previous lesson.

II. Consider at least two situations where this value may be threatened. Are the existing boundaries enough to protect against this threat?

III. If not, evolve your boundaries so that they are capable of allowing you to manage those situations.


Situation 1:

    My wife is going out for the night with co-workers. I become aware of the opportunity to watch soft core movies on cable TV.

    My value of absolute transparency would definitely work hereÂ…If I imagined my wife in my head watching me go through the decision making process, there would be no doubt that acting out on this stimulus would be a total violation of my values. I think that this boundary would also protect me from far more subtle threats than this example. I also believe that this boundary will strengthen over time as I learn more about my wife's boundaries.

Situation 2:

    I am going out with a friend. I told my wife that I would be home by 11:00 since we both have to work tomorrow. At 10:45, my friend offers to buy some nachos and beer. I would like another drink and I do not want to disappoint my friend.

    The following boundaries would be broken if I stayed.
      • I will not do anything that I know will place the balance of my health into a negative state.
      • Any act or thought that does not develop or maintain my core identity weakens it. I will not engage in such an act.
      • I will not attempt to rationalize any thought or action that goes against my core values.
      • I will not lie to myself or others.

    I believe that my boundaries would be easy to recall and implement in this situation. They would clearly indicate that staying out would compromise my values. The beer, nachos and sleep deprivation would not enhance my physical health, but would make me feel awful the next day. I would also trade a broken promise to myself and my wife for the short term emotional stimulation gained by avoiding the fear of what my friend would think. Any thoughts that might rationalize the decision to stay would not relate to my core values.


    If on the other hand, if my friend confided to me at 10:45 that he was going through a tough time with his marriage and really needed someone to talk to, I could easily adjust my reaction to the situation to maintain or develop my core values. I would not have the beer and nachos and I would call my wife to tell her that I would be a bit later. I would feel completely comfortable trading some sleep in order to help a friend. I would not stay out until I was too exhausted to help to him, but would ask how I could best support him in the future (when we were both more rested).


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2008 10:27 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 8:30 pm
Posts: 103
Exercise 39: Developing Healthy Sexual Values/Boundaries

Step 1 Take Inventory of Your Current Sexual Values
    1. I believe that sex is a natural part of being human
    2. I am aroused by sex or fantasy when I believe the women is enjoying the experience
    3. I prefer intercourse to other forms of sex
    4. I enjoy receiving and giving oral sex
    5. I find anal sex repulsive and have no inclination to ever try it
    6. I like a variety of sexual positions so long as they are not uncomfortable for me or my partner
    7. I do not like sex involving props
    8. I am very aroused by the idea of having sex outdoors
    9. I feel best about sex when I know that my partner is being satisfied or will achieve orgasm with me
    10. Sex is a deep form of physical and emotional communication
    11. I believe that any obsessive rituals combined with emotional immaturity deprive you of experiencing life on a deeper level
    12. I believe in monogamous relationships
    13. I believe that fidelity in marriage includes a profound respect for your partnerÂ’s boundaries (as if they were your own)
    14. I do not believe it is wrong to regard people other than your spouse as attractive. I believe that you are unfaithful when you indulge in fantasies or act on these attractions.
    15. I believe that infidelity is the highest crime in a marriage
    16. I believe that indulging in sexual or romantic fantasies about anyone other than your spouse while married is a form of infidelity regardless of whether these people are real or imagined.
    17. Infidelity includes viewing pornography
    18. I believe that masturbation is normal
    19. I do not know how to masturbate without the aid of pornographic imagery (either physical images, videos or scenes in my head)
    20. I do not like to talk about sex with my friends
    21. I feel uncomfortable about the idea of educating my children about sex
    22. I do not like being naked around other people
    23. I am not uncomfortable being naked around my wife, but I am not particularly aroused by it either
    24. Being naked with my wife does not directly relate to having sex with her
    25. I enjoy cuddling and touching my wife in non-sexual ways
    26. I enjoy foreplay and touching my wife sexually
    27. I enjoy when my wife touches me in non sexual ways
    28. I enjoy when my wife touches me in sexual ways
    29. I enjoy seeing my wife when she is naked
    30. I believe it is ok to have sexual fantasies as long as they do not distort your perception of reality
    31. I feel uncomfortable and unsure how to act when my partner engages in sex for my benefit alone
    32. I am heterosexual
    33. I am uncomfortable with and do not understand homosexuality or transgenderism. They represent atypical behaviour to me but I do not necessarily regard them as being morally wrong or signs of mental illness
    34. I do not believe that there is any place for pain or violence in sex
    35. Sex should always be consensual
    36. I believe that any sexual act that is not consensual or victimizes any participant is a severe moral crime along the same lines as murder.
Step 2 Define an Ideal Ending
    1. I will share an open, honest, fun and passionate sexual relationship with my spouse
    2. I will respect my wifeÂ’s sexual values and boundaries completely
    3. I will only engage in healthy and fulfilling sexual activities that correspond to my higher values
    4. I will be very relaxed and comfortable with my sexual identity
Step 3 Define a Beginning
    1. I believe that sex is a natural part of being human
    2. I am aroused by sex or fantasy when I believe the women is enjoying the experience
    3. I prefer intercourse to other forms of sex
    4. I enjoy receiving and giving oral sex
    5. I like a variety of sexual positions so long as they are not uncomfortable for me or my partner
    6. I am very aroused by the idea of having sex outdoors
    7. I feel best about sex when I know that my partner is being satisfied or will achieve orgasm with me
    8. Sex is a deep form of physical and emotional communication
    9. I believe that any obsessive rituals combined with emotional immaturity deprive you of experiencing life on a deeper level
    10. I believe in monogamous relationships
    11. I believe that fidelity in marriage includes a profound respect for your partnerÂ’s boundaries (as if they were your own)
    12. I do not believe it is wrong to regard people other than your spouse as attractive. I believe that you are unfaithful when you indulge in fantasies or act on these attractions.
    13. I believe that infidelity is the highest crime in a marriage
    14. I believe that indulging in sexual or romantic fantasies about anyone other than your spouse while married is a form of infidelity regardless of whether these people are real or imagined.
    15. I believe it is ok to have other sexual fantasies as long as they do not distort your perception of reality
    16. Infidelity includes viewing pornography
    17. I believe that masturbation is normal
    18. Being naked with my wife does not directly relate to having sex with her
    19. I enjoy cuddling and touching my wife in non-sexual ways
    20. I enjoy foreplay and touching my wife sexually
    21. I enjoy when my wife touches me in non sexual ways
    22. I enjoy when my wife touches me in sexual ways
    23. I enjoy seeing my wife when she is naked
    24. I do not believe that there is any place for pain or violence in sex
    25. Sex should always be consensual
    26. I believe that any sexual act that is not consensual or victimizes any participant is a severe moral crime along the same lines as murder.

Step 4 Define Your Existing Vulnerabilities
    1. Overconfidence or complacency
    2. Misunderstanding my emotional cues and rationalizing actions
    3. Giving in to guilt, shame and impulsiveness or being overwhelmed by all or nothing thinking
    4. Accidental or deliberate exposure to pornography
    5. External stress and fatigue that produce emotional imbalance
    6. Communication breakdown with my wife
Step 6 Select Initial Value for Development
    27. I believe that fidelity in marriage includes a profound respect for your partnerÂ’s boundaries (as if they were your own)
Step 7 Define the boundaries that will protect the selected value
    1. I will regard all of my partnerÂ’s relevant sexual or emotional boundaries as if they were my own.
    2. I will only engage in healthy romantic or sexual fantasies that involve my wife
    3. I will not view pornography including any video, still or mental image that I find sexually arouses me.
    4. I will not masturbate until I am able to do so without the aid of mental or physical images that violate my or my spouses values


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 10:09 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 8:30 pm
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Exercise 40 - Respecting the Boundaries of Others
Quote:
I. Choose someone in your life that you feel close to. A spouse. A child. A parent. A friend. Rather than assuming what boundaries they have; or what values they want protected...take some time to step into their lives. Refresh those perceptions that you have. Consider how you can HELP THEM reinforce those boundaries. Post a few thoughts about this in your thread.


This exercise is another one of those unexpected gemsÂ…A few lessons ago got me thinking about ways that I could make amends to people affected by my addiction. I regarded the problem as being a simple linear sequential ping pong game...What did I doÂ…Who was affected and how? How do I help them patch the damageÂ…Since most of the damage involved sexual or trust related values and boundaries, I would need to focus on helping them patch up those areas. Right?

I thought of this activity in isolation and did not consider the bigger picture. I separated making amends from other goals that I had set to strengthen my relationship with her and totally missed the point that relationships are more like ecosystems. It had sort of occurred to me in the past that causing damage in one area in my spouses life had impacts on other areas as well, but it never occurred to me to reverse the logicÂ…that focusing on supporting all of her values (not just the ones that I damaged) as well as strengthening my own values and boundaries would spill over and help her and our relationship grow stronger.

I was not at all surprised to learn that protecting our family was her highest priority as was being healthy. When we talked about how I could help reinforce these areas, she suggested things like: helping her keep our son healthy and safe, promoting his growth, keeping healthy myself and focusing on my recovery, watching her interactions and approaching her with honesty if I thought she might be violating her own boundaries or making other unhealthy choices. She went on to say that by just being a calm, soothing, rational and honest companion, I have always been a source of strength to her. It kind of blew my mind. I never considered the possibility of my values and hers being like an interconnected web and that every healthy value that we strengthen in ourselves or in each other impacts every other area of our livesÂ…pretty neat stuff.
Quote:
II. Consider what you could do should YOU become aware that you have violated a boundary of theirs.

We were not as lucid or enlightened in this area. About all we came up with was: ApologizeÂ…Evaluate what went wrongÂ…Work through the process of repairing the damageÂ…and put plans in place that would prevent the same thing from occurring in the future.
Quote:
III. Consider your reaction should they tell you that you have violated a boundary of theirs. Think beyond defensiveness...keep working until you grasp a healthy reaction. Post that reaction in your thread.

I would like to have a sensitive, honest and pragmatic reaction in which I would act like a grown up and be accountable for my actions. I would hope that I would be emotionally stabile enough to follow the process that I listed in step II. I would accept that the person whose values I violated would have the right to feel and express whatever emotions or thoughts that they experienced. If they were really freaking out and the situation became completely unhealthy, I would suggest a break until cooler heads could prevail.


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